My friend Eniola runs a pastry company and recently one of her customers posted on her whatsapp status about how wonderful her wedding cake was and how awesome Nilasblend (Eniola’s pastry company) is.

Someone saw this status update and asked for Eniola’s contact.

I see this sort of stuff happen frequently.

But the real question is what made the bride talk about Nilasblend on her status that resulted in more people knowing about Nilasblend

I’ve discovered two important keys that you have to incorporate in your business that would make your customers tell others about you and in this article, I’ll share them with you.

You ready? Leggo!

Whenever I’m reading history or reading accounts of how people have lived their lives in the past, or when I’m reading the Bible, I tend to notice the various Word-of-Mouth scenarios where an information about someone or about something was passed across from one person (usually someone who has experienced something or is privy to an information) to another, and I look out for the common factors that have influenced the spreading of such information (in other words, the factors that made people tell others about something).

So while reading the Bible today, in the last chapter of Luke (Chapter 24), I discovered two scenarios of word-of-mouth where people told other people about something they experienced. The chapter was basically talking about the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Scenario 1
The first scenario was when some women (Mary Magdalene, Joanna [the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward], Mary the mother of James and some others) went to the sepulchre (or tomb) of Jesus to anoint the body of Jesus with spices and all, but to their surprise, when they got there the tomb was empty, there was no body there.

This got them wondering and so they went to tell the apostles about it.

Notice that they couldn’t keep the information to themselves, they had to tell the apostles about it.

Scenario 2
The second scenario was when Jesus Christ appeared to two guys who were on their way to a village called Emmaus and he began walking with them and joined their conversation (at this point, they had no idea it was Jesus, plus they thought Jesus was still dead and had not gotten the new memo). When they got to their destination, they urged Jesus to have dinner with them, and as they had dinner, Jesus was revealed to them and they discovered they’ve been hanging out with Jesus. So they immediately also went ahead to tell the apostles about it.

So in these two scenarios, people came across something (in this age, it could be an experience, an information, a product, a friend etc) and they went ahead to tell others about it. No one mandated them to, but they went ahead to tell others about it.

So I took a good look at the two scenarios to find out what made people tell others about the stuff they experienced. I discovered two keys.

Emotions and Usefulness

So we'll be talking on Emotions and Usefulness. And I'll be using some terminologies such as First-Receiver and Second-Receiver or Subsequent-Receivers

First-receiver in the following examples are the women who went to the tomb, and also the two guys Jesus appeared to. In other words, the Talkers, the people who experienced something and told others.

The Second-receivers are those people who were told about the experience. So they are the apostles and other people who heard the information.

To get the first-receiver's attention, emotion has to be put in place.

When the women got to the tomb, they saw that it was empty, and they were perplexed, surprised, astonished. These emotions were evoked in them and that got their attention. There was an "Oh-my-God" or "wow" or "Geez" moment. This ignited a spark in them.

The next thing was, they realized this particular information would be very useful to the apostles. They needed to know that Jesus' body was not at the tomb anymore. They would be better off knowing. It would be useful to them. So they felt compelled to tell the apostles about it.

Same thing occurred in the second scenario. Emotions and usefulness.
Those guys were amazed. They were excited and they were surprised. They were "wowed". They were surprised Jesus was risen. So the excitement plus surprise emotions aroused them (we’ll talk about categories of emotions based on level of arousal in the subsequent paragraphs)

So these emotions ignited a spark in them and they also realized that this information would be useful and valuable to the apostles and other believers. They knew the apostles would be better off knowing that Jesus is already risen from death. So that usefulness factor made them share.

Emotions got their attention, but the usefulness factor made them share. There's a slight possibility that if you come across a content or an information that is emotional (probably funny, or gets you angry, or surprises you etc), but if it won't be useful or applicable to or won't benefit someone else, you won't share it with that particular person.

So we as business owners or marketers, we need to understand that for information to be passed along from first-receiver to the second-receiver, it has to be emotional and it has to be useful.

Most times, it has to be emotional to the first-receiver and it has to be useful to the second-receiver. Then by the time it gets to the second-receiver, it becomes emotional to the second-receiver and then useful for a third-receiver and the cycle continues.

Talking about emotions, there is a categorization of emotion that you need to pay attention to. A categorization of emotions based on the level of arousal.

We have High-arousal emotions and Low-arousal emotions

  • High-arousal emotions are emotions that get you to want to do something, to want to engage in an a action, to want to move, jump etc, gets your heart rate to rise, gets your blood pumped up and all. Excitement, humor, anxiety, surprise, anger and similar emotions can get you to move, jump, pace the floor, scream, etc
    Jonah Berger in his book "Contagious" gave an example saying that is why we can be seated next to people in a plane who won’t stop talking about their life, and that’s because of high-arousal emotions
  • Low-arousal emotions are opposite. They get you to stay calm, not wanting to engage in any action, your heart rate is reduced etc. These are emotions like sadness, contentment and the likes. For example, someone who is sad wants to be left alone, he/she doesn’t want to engage in any activity.

So your target should be high-arousal emotions. These are emotions you want the first-receiver (and by extension subsequent-recivers) to feel.

So if I'm scrolling through my Instagram feed and i come across a content that strikes an high-arousal emotion in me (probably a very funny content or one that makes me "awwwnn" or say "oh-my-God" or "wow" or "really?"), that content stops me from scrolling. It stops me. So i watch it or read it as the case may be. But the tendency of me sharing it is dependent on how useful or valuable i perceive the information will be to someone else.

So you might have seen contents that are emotional but you did not share them, and the reason you did not share them was because no one was coming to your mind. If you perceived the content would be useful to someone else other than you, somebody will come to your mind.

For example, my friend Toluwakemi saw a post that striked her emotion and she perceived that particular information would be very useful to me, so she shared the post with me. The author of the post did not have to make her share the post with me, but because the post striked a "wow" emotion in her, and would be useful to me, she felt compelled to share it with me.

In the same vein, let’s say today is your birthday and you just experienced the most wonderful birthday photoshoot with Data Studios that made you feel so special and excited. So there’s an high-arousal emotion here activated. Let’s also say your best friend’s birthday is coming up next month. There’s a very high possibility that you’ll tell your best friend about the experience you had with Data Studios.

This is because you had a surprising experience and you just couldn’t keep it to yourself, coupled with the fact that the information would be useful and valuable to your best friend whose birthday is in a few days and would be privileged to experience the treatment you just experienced.

So emotion and usefulness are strong factors that can result in sharing.

Final example, if your roommate has a cough, and while coming back from work you saw an advert that shows how you can cure cough in 30 mins in a very surprising way. The moment you get back home, you’ll let your roommate know about the ad you saw.

Emotion (surprise in this case) plus usefulness.

So as business owners or marketers, you need to ask yourself,

  • How does this product or experience or service or advert or information makes the customer/beneficiary/prospect/receiver feel? Is it making them feel excited, anxious, surprise, special etc?
    How the customer or prospect feels is very important
  • How useful is this product or experience or service or advert or information going to be to someone else (in other words, the second and subsequent-receivers)

If I had an experience with a bank that helped solve an issue but also made me feel important or special, I’d go ahead to tell my other friends who have had bank issues or who I know have bank accounts or who I know would find that information useful.

This was exactly why the Samaritan woman who Jesus met at a well, went ahead to tell others about Jesus. She was surprised (she said come see a man who told me all the things I have done) Jesus could know those things about her, and she felt the people needed to meet Jesus because that experience would be useful to them also.

In conclusion, your differentiator or talk trigger or that particular thing you're incorporating into your business or advert or content that you want people to talk about must be EMOTIONAL and must be USEFUL for the subsequent Receivers.

Thank you for reading today’s post. I hope you learnt something from hit. Hit me up on my social media handles @maylas_akorede for more insights. Kindly comment and share with others who would find this useful.

See you soon.

I’m May-Las Akorede. The Mouth-to-Mouth Expert




The Father's Son. I talk on Word-of-Mouth Marketing, Customer Experience, Pricing and Differentiation.

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May-Las Akorede

May-Las Akorede

The Father's Son. I talk on Word-of-Mouth Marketing, Customer Experience, Pricing and Differentiation.

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